Friday, 19 October 2012

TUC marching for justice and a future

There will be 100,000s turning out on Saturday for the TUC march ‘a future that works.’

The numbers will be guaranteed due to the way in which the Coalition Government has decided to tackle the deficit, which has united people across the spectrum, from teachers and police to doctors and Sure Start Centre organisers.

The dividing line is becoming very clear between a government drawn from an elite that seeks to dump the misery of austerity on the mass of people to pay for the actions of reckless bankers. The phrase “we’re all in it together”looks set to go down in history as one of the most ironic of all time.

The deficit is being used for idealogical reasons to further extend the neo-liberal market led approach to running society that started 30 years ago. Many thought the economic crisis created by this form of short termist capitalism would mark a new departure. However, it has just provided another opportunity to restructure capitalism so that the elite group of extremely rich individuals and corporations can continue to prosper to the cost of everyone else and the common good.

This has been most evident in the workplace. The changes the government has made in employment and health and safety laws benefit bad employers, who seek to exploit their workforce. One example has been the extension of the term of employment required before it is possible to go to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal from one to two years.

The type of workplace culture that this cultivates was brought home recently in relation to a person employed by a national charity. She had done an excellent job, worked hard, continuously having her contract renewed on a three monthly basis. When she got up to the statutory point that employment rights began to accrue the contract was terminated.

The effort put into do the job meant nothing, the only concern being how cheaply the organisation could get the work done. The worth of the individual in this type of situation it would seem counts for nothing, they have simply become a commodity. The life of that individual, the implications for his or her family meaningless.

This short termist selfish approach has become commonplace in British industry, it is the product of those so often praised “flexible” markets.

Another change the government are planning will see a fee being charged to actually access an employment tribunal at all. There is then to be another charge if the case goes forward. A cap is being proposed to any compensation awards made against bad employers.

All of these changes are justified on the basis of making British business more competitive or put another way, making it easier to exploit the workforce.

The economic rationale does not stack up. Germany has a far more protection for employees, coupled with much higher levels of productivity than Britain.

Germany together with other progressive countries in Scandanavia have a grown up attitude to trade unions. They work co-operatively together: government, employer and trade union to bring about the best outcome. British employers still look backwards to the class based attritional approach of the 19thcentury, as they seek to virtually eliminate trade unions.

Germany has also recognised the opportunity that green technology offers to create a second industrial revolution. The need for this technology grows as the ravages of climate change are seen on a daily basis throughout the world. The Germans are at the forefront of this technology and set to prosper. In Britain, a climate sceptic Chancellor has done all he can to choke off the burgeoning green industries in the UK. This is foolhardy at so many levels. The TUC vision calls for the embracing of green technology.

What the future that works vision is about above all is some social justice being applied as to how the country is run. As well as dignity in the workplace there is a call for companies to pay their fair share of tax.

There has been much publicity recently about large multinational companies operating in the UK but paying no tax. This is effectively theft from British citizens. All those facilities and resources being used in the UK are effectively provided free of charge by the tax payer - it simply cannot be right.

What the people marching on Saturday are calling for is justice in the workplace and vision for the future that will reward all in our society justly. Not a lot to ask for in the fourth biggest economy in the world

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